Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center
Case study of an effort to promote arts and culture in the NC Appalachian region with a non-profit arts organization.Go to site
In 2017, I began work as the Research Assistant to the Sharpe Chair at Appalachian State University. In 1982, the Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center, a non-profit arts organization serving Northwestern NC, and Appalachian State partnered to create the Sharpe Chair, which promotes art and culture in the North Carolina Appalachian region.
My duties in this role are to use my graphic design, web development, photo and video skills to create promotional materials, document events, produce videos, and generally assist the Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center (hereafter referred to as the Center) in their goal to strengthen the artistic and cultural community in Hiddenite and the surrounding areas. In this case study, I will showcase several of the projects that I have created for the Center in the last four years.
The COVID-19 pandemic was no less tricky to navigate for the Center than anyone else. There is normally a rich programming schedule for the community and surrounding schools, but when meeting in person was not an option, these events had to turn virtual. The longest running event in the Center's history, the North Carolina Heritage Fair was no exception. It is meant to be an informative celebration of the way that life was lived in the area in the 1850s. I filmed and produced a series of videos focusing on five presenters who shared skills that would have been commonplace at that time.
Another effect of the pandemic was a decrease in visitors to the Center. In the 1910s through 1950s, the building that is now the Center was occupied by "Diamond" Jim Lucas, a wealthy importer of diamonds and gems. The Center has preserved his legacy by maintaining a portion of the building to serve as the historic Lucas Mansion. I had the privilege of filming staff member Wyatt Smith giving a virtual tour of the mansion. The tour focuses on the life and possessions of Diamond Jim.
One of my earliest projects with the Center was to create a map of the local attractions in Hiddenite and the surrounding areas. Hiddenite is known for its rich abundance of gems, such as emeralds and the eponymous Hiddenite, the namesake of the town.
Every year, the Center holds its annual Celebration of the Arts. This event sees the main street of Hiddenite closed to traffic and lined with booths from local artists, crafters, organizations, and much more. There are events coordinated between the Center and App State, such as pottery wheel demonstrations, performances by local dance troupes, a Winnebago converted by the Geology Department into a mobile geology lab, and musical performances by the Steely Pan Band, a steel drum band comprised of students in the Music Department. My role at the Celebration is to document the event for the Center. In 2019, the App State Apparel Design program hosted a Fashion Expo as part of the Celebration as well.
The Center has in its possession many historical documents and photos related to the Center and its previous life as the Lucas Mansion. However, many of these have become damaged with age. I digitally retouched these documents for the Center's permanent collections.
Throughout the years, I have also documented performances given to the local community or to schools in Alexander County. In 2021 I filmed and produced a video of a performance by App State's Diyé African Drum and Dance Ensemble to be played to local schools.